Troubling Legacies of the Confucian Statecraft Tradition
October 28, 2021 @ 1:45 pm
Americans are familiar with Lincoln’s “of the people, by the people, for the people,” while Chinese citizens are familiar with Sun Yatsen’s “three principles of the people.” They are parallel discourses of government, but rise from different traditions and anticipate different outcomes. On the Chinese tradition of government for the people, no-one writes more clearly than Qiu Jun (1421-1495), chancellor of the National Academy and compiler of the authoritative handbook of state administration. Caught between the models of Great State ambition and Confucian self-cultivation, Qiu put Confucian philosophy to work so that the state acted for the people—but not of them or by them. If he deserves our notice, it is because even today his vision shapes Chinese perceptions of good government in ways that surprise and trouble.
Co-sponsored with the East Asia Program and the Department of History; Cornell University Faculty hosts: TJ Hinrichs, History, and Suyoung Son, Asian Studies
Timothy Brook Ph.D.
Professor of History
The University of British Columbia
Timothy Brook is a historian of China whose work has focused on the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) but extends to issues that span the period from the Mongol occupation of China in the 13th century to the Japanese occupation of China in the 20th. In addition to serving as the general editor of Harvard University Press’ History of Imperial China, he has published extensively on China in the world. A co-edited volume on the inter-polity relations of Inner and East Asia, Sacred Mandates: Asian International Relations since Chinggis Khan, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2018. His most recent book, Great State: China and the World, appeared in Britain and France (the French edition under the title of Le Léopard de Kubilai Khan) in September 2019 and on this side of the Atlantic by HarperCollins in March 2020. The French edition was awarded the Grand Prix des Rendez-vous de l’Histoire in October 2020.
On the 100th anniversary of the world-changing philosopher and statesman’s graduation from Cornell, EAP initiated an annual distinguished lecture in honor of Hu Shih. Leading scholars of Chinese and East Asian studies are invited to give a lecture on critical issues in their field of research. These lectures are archived as a resource for the Cornell community and beyond.
Hu Shih Distinguished lecture videos and programs are also permanently archived in the Cornell eCommons archive.
Renowned historian and feminist scholar, Dorothy Ko was the Hu Shih distinguished lecturer for 2019–20.
Sherman Cochran, the Hu Shih Professor of Chinese History, emeritus, presented the Cornell Contemporary China Initiative’s inaugural lecture on November 20, 2015, making the case for Hu Shih ’14, as the “greatest Cornellian.” Cochran framed his lecture as a comparison between Shih and other Cornell graduates: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54, novelist Thomas Pynchon ’59, and professional football player and actor Ed Marinaro ’72. Read more about the event.